We started out today at a sprint - bringing Greg into the conference center and getting him badged up, then straight to the trade show floor where the Community Lounge is, which includes the Speaker Idol stage.
First on the agenda: The Speaker Idol briefing. Most of the contestants were there, including two women (first time ever, as far as I know). There's a total of seventeen contestants over four waves. The first three waves will have four contestants each, the fourth wave will have five contestants.
Each contestant in the wave does a five minute presentation in front of a panel of judges and an audience. Greg and I are the hosts, we introduce the judges, the contestants and generally move things along. Our job is pretty easy until something goes wrong and we have to keep things moving anyway.
The waves run Monday to Thursday. Monday the wave is in the evening, the rest of the week the waves are at lunch time. In the afternoon on Thursday there's the finals, in which the winner of each wave presents a second time.
The judging panel is made up of Andy Malone (last years winner), John Craddock (presenter extraordinaire), Michael Anderburg (the security track chair) and none-other than Steve Riley, the over-the-top, anything-goes-just-get-your-message-across world class speaker. Rumor has it we'll have a mystery judge for the finals.
The first Speaker Idol was last year at the developer week of Tech Ed Europe - Carl and I served as hosts. We then brought Speaker Idol to Tech Ed US, which went extremely well. Coming back to Europe I could see we'd learned a few things about putting on the event, it was that much smoother than last year.
After the briefing, I reviewed the swag for 64 Bit Question - we would be doing the game show immediately following Speaker Idol. We've done the 64 Bit Question a number of different ways, depending on the environment. This was the first time we'd be doing an all IT audience 64 Bit Question, which just meant a different set of questions. When we do the game show in a session room (with everyone seated), we can do a more elaborate format... but for the Community Lounge (with everyone standing), we go with the simple format: one contestant, one question, one prize.
With a few hours to spare between the meetings and the first wave of Speaker Idol, I headed for the speakers lounge and discovered that two floors below was the Virtual TechEd Fishbowl! And there, sitting in the front, my dear friend Zaakera Stratman, the boss. I first met Zaak at Tech Ed US when Virtual TechEd first took off and we coined the name "FishBowl" for the plexiglass room that all recording and editing is done in.
At Tech Ed Europe, the FishBowl was stashed away in a lower part of the conference center, which is unfortunate because very few people got to see it in action. The whole point of the FishBowl is to be visible within the conference. But, space constraints being what they are, you work with what you've got. Zaak was struggling with getting enough interviewers for all her interviews, so Greg and I pitched in immediately.
A few interviews later we had to run back to the Community Lounge for the first wave of Speaker Idol. The trade show floor had just opened and the crowd was massive - hundreds of folks were in the Community Lounge. The first wave is always a challenge as we knock the bugs out of the process, but for the most part things went smoothly, and in about an hour we had our first wave winner: Peter Mendelsohn.
Then it was time for the 64 Bit Question, which flew by - we did a dozen questions, grabbing folks from the audience to answer them. Some knew the answers right away, some had a bit more challenge, but in the end, all the prizes were given out.
With that, we were done, and it was late... Greg and I hadn't had a chance to eat or anything. Fortunately, nobody in Barcelona eats early, so we grabbed dinner around 10pm at one of the restaurants on the way back to the hotel.
Tomorrow would be an easier day of interviews for Virtual TechEd, for IT Forum Virtual Side and for RunAs Radio... and one more wave of Speaker Idol.